The Tour de France is turning 100 next year, its organizers hope with a clean slate. It will be the first one to take place after the historic removal of Lance Armstrong’s seven straight wins from 1999 to 2005, even if it can't do much about its yellow (jersey) branding that recalls Armstrong's Livestrong yellow.
The Tour announced its route for next summer’s big race on Wednesday. Tour de France President Jean-Etienne Amaury said organizers will keep fighting the “plague” of doping, even as he didn't mention Armstrong by name.
One thing the Tour has got to be thankful for is that, unlike the many sponsors of Armstrong that have quickly ended their relationships with him, none of their sponsors have cut the cord just yet, the Associated Press reports.
"We don't sponsor a team or an individual, we sponsor a sporting event that each year attracts great public enthusiasm," stated French bank LCL spokesman Pierre Baillot, the AP reports. "The wider public knows how to draw a distinction."
Tour director Christian Prudhomme says cycling fans shouldn’t worry. "A movement has started a few years ago and it must go on. Everybody must work on it," Prudhomme told reporters, according to Reuters. "You cannot say that (anti-doping) tests don't work. I remind you that we lost two winners (Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador) in five years recently" over doping.
Meanwhile, Dutch bank Rabobank, which had sponsored a cycling team for 17 years, has decided to not do so next year. As the AP notes, T-Mobile and Liberty Seguros have both ended sponsorship deals in recent years due to doping scandals. And now Chipotle has announced that it is ending its relationship with Slipstream Sports development squad that has existed for two years, according to Cycling News.
"Lance had nothing to do with it," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Cycling News. "Quite simply, we have been dialing back our sports sponsorships across the board. It's really that simple."
As Nike moves on to its next big sports sponsorship, Manchester United, the Nike-less Armstrong quietly acknowledged the loss of the Tour de France wins from his legacy by removing his seven Tour championships from his Twitter bio. Who says you can’t (re)write the future?